Daisuke Tsutsui is the frontman of electro-rock band Dn-Lahmar Galaxy7, a band that recently returned with a digital album. Observant viewers may have noticed that the band name is now a bit longer after deciding that it is better not to be compared to a specific smartphone. Recently, AVO Magazine got the chance to talk to the musician about his background in the music world as an indie and major artist, as well as the new album, the ongoing pandemic and the future.
AVO Magazine: Recently the name of Galaxy7, originally a solo project you started in 2008, got an addition to it and now it is called Dn-Lahmar Galaxy7. Knowing that this project was on a hiatus for a couple of years, the return with a name change can be seen as a new start. What was exactly the reason for this name change? What meaning has it now?
Daisuke: As I was releasing the new album, I wanted to make my band something new and different from what we have been. And another reason is that the word “Galaxy 7” instantly reminds people of a smartphone whenever they hear it, so I have been thinking about changing the name of my band for a while. LOL. Dn stands for Daisuke Never Die. Lahmar is the word I made up combining two words: Laal and ‘ahmar. Laal is Hindi and ‘ahmar is Arabic, and they both mean the colour red. Red is my colour, it represents who I am.
AVO Magazine: You are supported by bass player Tatsuya Takahashi, Yu Okamoto on keyboard and drummer Chihiro Higashi. Can you tell me something about the band members and how you all came together to become a band?
Daisuke: Chihiro always plays the drums more than how I expect for my music. The live concerts of my band have never been the same without him. I will definitely ask him to play for me again if I have a chance to produce a different band. Tatsuya used to play for Galaxy 7 as a bass player and he came to play with us when we had some gigs overseas. I have been playing with so many different bass players, but he always has been the one that I feel right about the most. You know, he’s like the person I definitely need by my side on stage. For this reason, to tell you the truth, I had been asking him many times to come back to the band since he left Galaxy 7 a while ago, and he had turned me down ever since. But as my band was turning into a whole different one this time, I asked him again with little hope and he said yes. I still don’t know what changed his mind. LOL. Yu is a professional dancer, but I asked her to join our band because I needed her performance on my stage and she was a perfect addition to balance out the appearance of our band.
AVO Magazine: Since you have experiences of being active as an indie musician for more than 10 years, but also working under a major record company, what are for you the positive and negative sides of being an indie and as a major artist?
Daisuke: There is a huge gap between major and indie musicians. Obvious differences in the power they possess. Financial abilities, connections, marketing and promotional power… In the major music industry, labels or agencies are huge so musicians are totally considered to be their merchandise. A huge amount of manpower and money are spent to figure out the best way to promote the musicians, and the best way to make them sell. Labels and agencies in the major music industry are very strong financially, so they can raise sales by controlling their target audience. On the other hand, musicians have no freedom. Your bosses will give you the direction, they will stick their nose into the music you create. Unless you are a big musician.
It is very typical especially for Japanese companies in the music industry that they tend to dislike doing something new or something that no one has ever done before, and they don’t let their musicians try on these things either. In some point, I understand because they are office workers, not musicians, but the only thing they can think of is to follow what is already in trend, like “Let’s do the same thing because it is very hot now in the US.” They can only try to promote their musicians by brown-nosing young audiences and current trend. That was the biggest reason I stopped working in the major music industry and left.
Not only in the music industry in Japan, but also in most industries, they only care about how well their merchandise sell within the domestic market only. If it sells well within its own country, it is considered to be a successful business and they are all satisfied. They don’t even think about making their merchandise a big hit overseas.
So in the music industry, they always look for what becomes a big hit overseas and bring it into Japan, add some adjustment to match what young target audience is looking for, and that’s their merchandise. Although, Korea goes way ahead of us in terms of entertainment, people in the Japanese music industry don’t really care as long as they are successful domestically. That’s how I think.
As for indie musicians, they can do whatever they want for the music they create, as you know. But not only creating music and performing it in concert, they also have to do all the other business-related things all by themselves. And they have to pay for all the costs by themselves as well. Since they can’t advertise their music widely, it is tough and it takes a lot to deliver it to a more and broader audience. It is human nature that people gather around where there is already people gathered so it would be very tough for them to start their own crowd.
AVO Magazine: You have been touring all over the world a few times, including Europe. What have been your fondest memories of touring?
Daisuke: I don’t remember how many years ago but I would say it would be Japan Expo Sud in South France where I played with Tatsuya. The audience there was very warm and welcoming and they even sang “Happy Birthday” to me because it was my birthday. Such a good memory. Also, I had a good time at the outdoor music festival in Indonesia. I was so excited because there were so many musicians I love from the US and England!
AVO Magazine: With plenty of experience performing overseas, what is currently your dream in regards to performing? Is there a location or event outside Japan that you would perform at or want to organise something where you present your musical projects?
Daisuke: Of course I do want to perform in front of a large audience in a large venue. It is very natural for a musician like me. But now I only think that as long as I am able to perform in front of an audience who loves my music, it doesn’t matter which country or which venue it would be. All I want is to perform in live concerts as many time as possible. Performing in live concerts is just like working out. Continuation is key in order to keep performing the best. You will lose your touch too, if you are away from performing at a concert for a while. It is not a matter of where I perform or what kind of event I perform at, it is the matter of how many times I can perform in live concerts. Ideally, I would like to perform in about 100 live concerts per year.
AVO Magazine: What about in Japan?
Daisuke: I don’t really have any preference in Japan either. I have very few Japanese fans and every time I released my new albums, I realized that most of the people who downloaded it were from foreign countries. It has been like that for a long time. I love Japan, I do, but I really want to move to somewhere overseas.
AVO Magazine: On the 17th of October, you have released the third album with Dn-Lahmar Galaxy7, a self-titled album. Looking at the titles that you have given to the songs, it feels overall a nature-themed album with a focus on the sky although the album is filled with a lot of electronics. What kind of concept did you have in mind while creating this album?
Daisuke: I have a very strong and special feeling for this new album. Ever since I was a little child, I have been listening to so many different types of music so I have many desires on what I want to do when it comes to creating music. I used to put those all desires mixed into one album at once, so all of my old albums didn’t have any consistency and they were messy. But currently, I am producing a few different types of bands and solo projects like IJEN KAI and OLE. That’s how I manage my different desires towards music by having separate projects for each one.
Dn-Lahmar Galaxy 7 is the album created with my thoughts about ‘Humans’. When I was a teenager, I spent painful days because of a certain thing that I could not tell anyone about. What I was doing back then was listening to music and kept looking up at the night sky to watch stars. For some reasons it calmed me down and I felt like those stars were pouring me their energy. In this world, there are so many people who’s lives have been very tough and painful. I created this album hoping that my music makes those people feel better just like the starry night sky did to me.
AVO Magazine: Dn-Lahmar Galaxy7 were on hiatus for a couple of years, if you look at this album and the former two albums, in what way has the band project changed over the years?
Daisuke: I am a big fan of martial arts and watchsuch games a lot. Martial arts fighters often answer their interview question like “I am totally different person from who I was before. Power, speed, and techniques, everything is improving. I am totally unbeatable now.” Just by watching them in front of the TV, you probably cannot tell any difference, but they truly and proudly meant what they say because they know it for sure that they are different from their hard training, thorough researching, and continuous challenges to find the best way to improve themselves.
The same thing can be said about me. I have experienced many failures and made many mistakes in terms of live performance, new song release. But every time it happened, I observed it, faced my failure or mistake, and improved it. So just like the fighters I mentioned earlier, I can also say “I am improving in terms of everything from songs to music, to the band, and to live concerts performance.”In the past couple of years, so many things happened to me personally, and those things made me grow up as a person. I am pretty sure it is reflected in my music as well.
AVO Magazine: Before releasing the self-titled album, it has been 8 years since the last album of Dn-Lahmar Galaxy7 and the band went on a hiatus, what has kept you busy in the meantime?
Daisuke: So many things happened actually, but mostly I have spent my time to take care of my parents because they got sick. I can’t really give you any details but it caused me to get sick myself as well so I wasn’t in the position that was able to create anything.
AVO Magazine: Now we are becoming more and more aware that COVID-19 pandemic currently affects a lot of people all over the world. These effects are felt in a lot of ways across all sectors of life, including those working in the cultural sector, such as musicians. How is this for you as a musician and how have you been dealing with it?
Daisuke: This pandemic is causing so many musicians to quit playing and creating music. It is the same situation for myself not being able to perform at live concerts. But I have been on hiatus for a long time and all my fans are gone so it was actually a perfect time for me and my other bands and solo projects to write as many music as possible preparing for live concerts and to be ready for it when the right time comes. So we did not rush into having any live stream concerts or any other kind. In fact, I am naturally an indoor person mostly spending my day at home creating something, so this stay-home situation wasn’t really bothering me, it was rather more enjoyable.
AVO Magazine: Recently in the news, there have been announcements of live venues, also in Japan, closing down due to the fact that there is no money anymore to keep on running. In Japan, there has been quite some crowdfunding and protests to receive support towards the venues from SOS (Save Our Space) and MUSIC UNITES AGAINST COVID-19 among others. How do you view this situation?
Daisuke: The situation surprised me a lot. Venues like a live music club I used to perform at when I was a teenager, or long-established live music clubs have been closed down one after another. It costs a lot of money to operate and manage such a venue, I assume it is very hard even just to keep paying the rent. I personally think that there will not be enough venues for musicians when we are allowed to do more live concerts. I wonder if it is the same situation overseas, if many venues are closing down due to this pandemic. I really want to know the situation.
AVO Magazine: The current situation means that a lot of things may not turn out as they were planned. It can be a challenge to remain focused with so much uncertainty around. How do you stay motivated to continue with your projects?
Daisuke: How to stay motivated. That, I really don’t know. I am 48 years old now. And I will turn 49 soon. (red. Daisuke’s birthday was last week) Maybe I’m crazy because I’m almost 49 years old and I am about to gloriously start 3 bands and a solo project all at once during this pandemic. One day, I came across with the website of my own record label and what you could see there was that I wanted collections of music, photograph, clothing, and drawings which express myself. Just like a little boy collecting insects to create his own specimen collection of them.
But now I remember I received so many messages from so many people when I released this new album. They all are really warm and touching messages. All of them are from foreign listeners and I was so happy and grateful when I read those messages that it almost made me cry. So I want to say that those kinds of feedback from my listeners would be my biggest motivation to continue with my projects. Therefore, for instance, even if I won’t be able to perform in live concerts at all any more for some reasons, I still think I will keep creating my own music.
AVO Magazine: Now that the third album has been released, what is next for Dn-Lahmar Galaxy7?
Daisuke: Live tours and concerts. That’s all. That’s what we are looking at for 2021. I want my year of 2021 to be filled with live tours and concerts schedule.
AVO Magazine: What are currently the best ways to support you and Dn-Lahmar Galaxy7?
Daisuke: The best way would be to keep sending me feedback. As I mentioned earlier, messages from my fans are my biggest motivation. Dn-Lahmar Galaxy 7 is a very very small band. Let’s say there is a band and their music becomes a big hit. Now when you look at their fans, most of them are real fans, but some of them may only join the crowd because it’s a trend. When you think about it as a business, it is a wonderful and desirable situation for all of them but it is also true that there are some hardcore music fans like those who bother to send warm messages to an unknown band like us. And those messages and feedback are real. We can directly receive how our fans are feeling about us, about our music, about our performance. I create music and deliver it, and people listen to it and absorb my message. That communication is priceless, something you cannot buy with money. I feel like it is our privilege of being a small band to be able to realise how important it is.